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John Sergeant and The Sea King, 28th Feb

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John Sergeant and The Sea King, 28th Feb

Old 5th Mar 2013, 08:07
  #81 (permalink)  
 
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sargs

Thanks for filling in detail. Yes, I'm an engineer and try not to encroach! Our main concern at the time was the astronomical cost of supporting radars for a 20 (?) aircraft SAR Mk3 fleet. It should have been a 5 minutes, once a fortnight task, but was eating up time and budget. It was an obvious question. Why did the RN need fewer radars and funding for 82 ASW aircraft, with a more expensive/complex radar? Forgive me, but the attitude in the RAF at the time was, we've 180 radars to play with, so what if we change them daily. The LTC line was constructed as "Sea King Radar", which meant there was a knock-on effect on the RN if 20% of the aircraft consumed 80% of the funding.

If I remember correctly, the radar was (more) easily viewed in an RN aircraft, but the RAF had their curtain (for want of the correct term)

No names, and I can't recall anyway, but the Finningley man was the Instructor, a Sqn Ldr. He was very supportive and quite annoyed at the lack of training HE had received. The rig was delivered from Daedalus as they had 4 and no longer needed them. (I do recall their instructor - Paddy). It was quite a basic failure. A 2nd Line workshop was constrained to a Depth A maintenance policy through lack of training.

Don't let this obscure the main (dis)organisational problem. It should have been the RAF support people (AMSO) who made provision for proper training, rigs, pubs etc; and prevented the waste in the first place. The SAR bosses (perhaps still in Empress State at the time?) were tearing their hair out. So, one part of the RAF was ignoring another. At a more senior level (1 Star) the problem only became apparent when SAR readiness plummeted due to lack of radars.

I'm trying not to have a pop at the RAF. At the time (post-formation of ASE), solving such problems in the RN quite clearly fell to the MoD(PE) project manager (in this case there was an IPT covering fire control and surveillance radars) and the RN had a single point of contact for all problems. That postholder was selected for his background. But the RAF remained fragmented and it was impossible to tie down anyone on each component. AEDIT (?) at Finningley were astonished someone from what was basically an RN-orientated IPT, with total authority, could just pitch up and crack the problem without being asked (and that is the biggest indictment). The later IPT model (1999) couldn't do that, being constrained by personnel policy, lack of delegated powers and stove-piping.

Interesting difference of opinion over the blind arc, which serves to highlight the difficulty OR had. My main point was the arc could have been halved in the Mk3A at less cost, with minimal cost for Mk3 retrofit; as no radar equipment had to be bought and there would have been huge support and training benefits through commonality.
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Old 5th Mar 2013, 10:06
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If you are dark blue, and need some light relief, you may care to have a look at Sea King: BBC2 9pm Thursday 28 FEB 2013 if you haven't done so already ....

Jack
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Old 5th Mar 2013, 10:19
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Sorry, I was having difficulty locating the report I wrote at the time. It was 15th February 1989. I erred slightly, above.

When ARW closed in 1983 the RAF were advised this removed their only 2nd line / Depth B/C facility and alternative arrangements would be necessary. (This closure was the single worst act of vandalism ever perpetrated on avionic support by the RN and ultimately cost tens of millions!!). It was wrong of me to suggest Finningley were meant to carry out 2nd line to any depth - no such capability was initiated, and the MP remained, as I said, 2nd Line at ARW despite it being closed down. Hence, the tendency to hook out the entire radar, at all front line detachments, regardless of "fault".

The report states there were 14 operational Mk3s on that day, none with radar fitted and all role limited. That sounds about right for a fleet of about 20. As it was no longer policy to know what assets any Service had, the report simply estimates "at least" 150 Light Weight Radars in service, to support 14 a/c. My 180 (above) would include those retained by the RN for apprentice training etc, plus those modified to Weather Mode variant (which the RAF paid for and modified, but then never fitted).

The main maintainer issue was how they adjusted Receiver Gain after installing a new Control Radar Set. (An internal adjustment of a pot, and a separate adjustment to the Swept Gain I mention, which was an Operator issue). Essentially, they looked for noise paint, then reduced gain until it disappeared; reducing system gain to nothing. This reflected a lack of experience on raw radars. As they had no pubs, instructions or training the procedure was passed down by word of mouth. It was completely different from that used by Fleetlands and the Design Authority, so any LRU received at 1st Line was perceived to be "wrong", when in fact it was correct. About 95% of rejections were recorded at MACE, Swanton Morley as "Low Gain" or "Poor Video"; with 99% of those determined as No Fault Found at 3rd Line. The report characterises this as a "gross waste of money".

Actions included Fleetlands delivering a properly calibrated complete radar, as opposed to individual LRUs, to be flown in a trial. This system was the subject of two Concessions by the DA as it deviated from the RRE spec to "better" meet RAF expectations and allow for the fact they had no 2nd Line capability. And the aforementioned Training/Hot Rig, to be used for both when Air Eng 22 (in Empress State) updated the Maintenance Policy. A form of Direct Exchange (common in the RAF, less so in the RN or at Fleetlands) was offered. I know the rig and the calibrated set were delivered inside 2 days, but not if the MPS was amended. Long time ago. Old age and all that.
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Old 5th Mar 2013, 11:17
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Somewhere around 1973 or 74 we had a HAS1 flew into the cliffs at night on a casex, hidden in the blind arc and plot slippage was believed to have been a factor: 824NAS. Somewhere west of Predannack, IIRC: the cliff was 210 feet AMSL, they were in the jump at 200ft RadAlt. I had to launch with the total holding of black powder extinguishers from Culdrose to drop off to extinguish the MGB on fire: all 25-30 of them.

I'll look up the date tomorrow.
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Old 5th Mar 2013, 11:47
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This one John..21/03/1974 XV702 R-054 Sea King HAS1 824 NAS Flew into cliffs at night one mile west of Black Head, Coverack near to The Lizard, Cornwall. All four crew were killed
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Old 5th Mar 2013, 11:52
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My favourite bit was talking about the baby born en route.....
they didn't show it on the program but IIRC the crew talking about having to get on the comms to base and revise their POB status +1....
BZ all round.

and the two teabags (divers) leaping off the sinking boat - effin eck!
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Old 5th Mar 2013, 20:04
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@FODPlot:

Mid- to late 70s the German Marineflieger were taking delivery of their aircraft, SK Mk 41.
At the same time, British crews would train their German counterparts, operating from Culdrose.
I do recall that even a few big SAR cases were flown during that time, one leading to severe salt ingestion due to gale force winds, resulting in a flame out shortly prior to "jumping" over a cliff.
"Zoom"-climbing shortly prior impacting the cliff was a standard procedure back then. Having an engine fail just before climbing made it all a little bit more interesting.

Anyway, the trainers used aircraft designated for a delivery to Germany back then.
Maybe that explains it?

Tom
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Old 5th Mar 2013, 21:04
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Originally Posted by Thone1 View Post
I do recall that even a few big SAR cases were flown during that time, one leading to severe salt ingestion due to gale force winds, resulting in a flame out shortly prior to "jumping" over a cliff.
"Zoom"-climbing shortly prior impacting the cliff was a standard procedure back then. Having an engine fail just before climbing made it all a little bit more interesting.
Tom,

You can find references to the Merc Enterprise rescue and Dave Mallock flying the Mk41 here on PPRuNe: there was no 'zoom climb' involved so please consign that crew-room fable to the rubbish bin! Dave had engine surges for some time while transiting back to CU from Plymouth overwater, at cruise, and when he was back over the Lizard Peninsular the surging was so bad that he did a night auto into a ploughed field, nearly turning over in the process.

Originally Posted by GrumpyGramps View Post
I seem to remember it happened by accident when I was at Lossiemouth back in the 80's. I think we had a Sea King fitted with a light grey blade which was very noticeable from above. Later the yellow blade was introduced as some protection from all the fast jets with small windows and short sighted pilots.
Try fighter evasion tactics development with a Wessex in the late 60s/early 70s!

In the debrief there were three big visual giveaways for the fighter to find the Wessex: one odd coloured blade, the pilot's white helmet and gloves, and the yellow LSJ (OK, that makes four )

That resulted in green helmets, green gloves and green LSJ. And odd coloured blades for SAR, which came about in the 1980s.
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Old 5th Mar 2013, 21:53
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Just caught up with this, and as another Cornish lad the constant mispronounciation of CulDrose did raise a hackle every time. Otherwise an enjoyable hour. Would have liked to have seen more of the SK's history re ASW, ASaC and exports, but can't have it all I suppose. And I well and truly doff my hat to the two divers on the Murree shout.

Speaking of hats, I thought headwear was not permitted to be worn on aircraft handling areas? Mr. Sargeant was very attached to his tweed hat when he was not sporting a bonedome.
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Old 6th Mar 2013, 11:30
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John Eacotts comment about white helmets/gloves reminds me of the 2 and 4 Sqn Hunter FR pilots in Gutersloh telling us they could find our dispersed Wessex by spotting white mushrooms aka helmets. I consulted IAM Farnborough and various Flight Safety agencies without getting any real objections, so went to the MT section and had my helmet painted with bog standard drab green same as our Land Rovers . Apart from my flight commander getting somewhat uptight, it was accepted and by the time I went to 848 on an exchange tour in 1970 I think it was being adopted widely on SH sqns ......... the white gloves didn't seem to present much of a giveaway after setting up in the field and refuelling/re-roleing the less than pristine 'queen of the skies'!

Last edited by lsd; 22nd Mar 2013 at 18:32.
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Old 6th Mar 2013, 11:39
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Reference above to naked ladies etc should refer to LandRovers ....seem unable to edit it out...technology and advancing years...
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Old 6th Mar 2013, 15:48
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I enjoyed it, seeing old cabs and old colleagues again

For the record -
However a Helicopter has found a sub and attacked it, causing major damage.....Just wasn't a Sea King and the sub wasn't submerged.
Not true.. 819 squadron at HMS Gannet saw to that. I vaguely recall when I was a baby tiff on field training in 1988 an exercise Stingray accidentally stoofing into the side of a boat, I think it was the Conqueror (Someone correct me if I am wrong) The boat in question limped into Faslane much to amusement of the TV News crews and acute embarrassment of the Roger Nigel.
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Old 6th Mar 2013, 19:05
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@JohnEacott:

Copied.
Can you help with finding this incident here on PPRuNe?

Thanks,

Tom
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Old 6th Mar 2013, 20:49
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Not true.. 819 squadron at HMS Gannet saw to that. I vaguely recall when I was a baby tiff on field training in 1988 an exercise Stingray accidentally stoofing into the side of a boat, I think it was the Conqueror (Someone correct me if I am wrong) The boat in question limped into Faslane much to amusement of the TV News crews and acute embarrassment of the Roger Nigel.
Interesting story, worth a look up when the 30 years rule runs out on that one. The one I was talking about the weapons involve were a mix of DC's, AS-12 Missiles and a Mk 46, all warshots lobbed at a certain Argie sub in late April 82 by every other Westland product in operational shipborne FAA use at the time. Though somebody did say on one of the Falklands threads on here, that a Mk 46 was launched against a confirmed twin screw sub target during the war and the sub evaded the torpedo. Didn't say what the 46 came off though.
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Old 7th Mar 2013, 10:05
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Originally Posted by Thone1 View Post
@JohnEacott:

Copied.
Can you help with finding this incident here on PPRuNe?

Thanks,

Tom
If you use the Advanced Search for Merc Enterprise and/or David Mallock you'll find posts on a few threads. RN Sea King icing incident is one, even though it was nothing to do with icing!
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Old 26th Mar 2015, 23:10
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And it's on again:


BBC Two - The Sea King: Britain's Flying Past


"Sun 29 Mar 2015
19:00
BBC Two except Wales


The Sea King: Britain's Flying Past


John Sergeant presents a TV love letter to one of Britain's most iconic aircraft, the Sea King helicopter."
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